Jan 282009

The UT has some positive words (in fact, it sounds a little like a press release) about a fish farm proposal from Hubbs-SeaWorld. The fish farm would be located off Mission Beach and would grow striped bass. This would be the first in the county, but not in the area. A 30 minute drive into Mexico or a trip to the Coronado Islands would yield a number of fish pen sightings – mostly tuna exports for Japan.

As Jay at the Linkery states, these fish farms would have a negative impact on our local environment:

Concentrated animal feedlot operations degrade their environment, propagate antibiotic-resistant disease, and ultimately provide second-rate nutrition, because the animals aren’t eating their natural food. Feedlots’ “positive economic effects” are simply that they exploit certain subsidies in our economy (commodity crops and unregulated environmental damages) to externalize most of their costs and thus make money for their operators.

He also states that this method of raising fish also ultimately impacts other areas of the country:

Just as in the movement of cattle to feedlots, they’re saying we can raise cheap fish by feeding them something that’s not their natural diet, but which is cheap. Of course, commodity corn is grown primarily through the use of fossil fuel, and is a big cause of the degradation of the soil and of rural communities in the Midwest, and the water in the Gulf of Mexico.

I agree with everything Jay wrote, his post is worth a read. Yet even believing all of the above, a part of me also believes the fish farms could have two positive effects. The first is California pollution controls. If we don’t farm the fish I believe some other country will. This country will probably have much lower standards for pollution controls and the health of local populations. We can probably do it cleaner here than China can and perhaps even set the bar higher.

The second reason is that we need more awareness of our food sourcing. The US is a net importer of sea food – most of the US population has no idea where our seafood comes from, or the damage that its harvest may have caused. The ocean stocks are on the brink of collapse, yet there is no problem walking into any seafood (or sushi) restaurant in the county and ordering whatever type of fish you want. Local production will force us to confront many of the ills that industrial farming produces. This will hopefully encourage people to think about where their food comes from and make better decisions.

Would the positive effects outweigh the negative effects? I’m not sure. I am probably being too optimistic, or naive about our ability to do it better or change peoples behavior. All the same, I think it is in everyone’s best interest to avoid NIMBY behavior.

Jan 042008

The LA Times exposes some of the craziness that is going on with auto financing these days in New cars that are fully loaded — with debt

When Jennifer and Bobby Post traded in their 2001 Chevy Suburban last year for a shiny new Ford F-350 turbo diesel with an extended cab, it seemed like a great deal. Even though they still owed $9,500 on their SUV after the trade-in value, they didn’t have to put a penny down.

The dealership, near the Posts’ home in Victorville, made it easy; it just added the old debt to the price of the new truck and gave the couple a seven-year, $44,276 loan.

First of all, why the hell do they still owe 10k on a 7 year old vehicle? Then there is the rolling of the loan into a new, longer one so they can get a lower monthly. Uhg. Compound interest people, do some googling.

Gone are the days of the three-year car loan. The length of the average automobile loan hit five years, four months in October, up more than six months from 2002, according to the Federal Reserve. And nearly 45% of loans written today are for longer than six years. Even some staid lenders owned by the carmakers, such as Toyota Financial Services and Ford Credit, are offering seven-year financing. And a few credit unions, particularly in the West, are tinkering with the eight-year note.

My mind = blown. If you can’t afford to pay your car off in 3 or 4 years, you should be looking at a different car, or pricing out a bus pass.

Cindy Gerhardt has rolled over so much debt on successive vehicle purchases — five in three years — that she now owes almost $43,000 on two trucks worth no more than $29,000 and, she says, perhaps as little as $22,000. …She recently tried to refinance her mortgage, she said, but was declined because her car payments were too high. “Not one dealer ever said this was a problem. Ever. I never had a dealership say no.”

I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear a business trying to make money off you did not have your best interests at heart. Is personal responsibility dead?

Oct 152007

I went on a dive to the Yukon and the Ruby E this weekend. Two guys on the same dive boat were visiting San Diego and decided to go diving. Nice enough guys, but I noticed the following as everyone was getting ready to go out to the wrecks:

1) Wetsuits were on backwards, hoods were on outside the suit
2) One had 30 lbs of lead on him, but only weighed about 150 lbs
3) Couldn’t remember how to gear up, connect hoses
4) Did not have a dive computer or tables for nitrogen exposure < ! >
5) Talked about going inside the Yukon, but had no wreck reel or experience penetrating wrecks < ! >

It was an accident waiting to happen if I’ve ever seen one. The Yukon is not a forgiving wreck, and these guys did not have any room for error. I ended up being their dive buddy and tried to help them out. It was a bit of a mess. They were nice guys, but it was a downer to pay for a dive trip and end up being the mother hen. Ultimately I’d rather do that than worry about whether or not they were going to get bent, or come back up at all.

In theory, I’m a big supporter of personal responsibility. I think we are coddled too much, and don’t react well when something doesn’t go to plan. It is one of the things I love about travel to other countries. But in this case, I’m not sure what to think. They really had no business being on the boat. I’m guessing there was an attitude of “if they let us do it, it must be safe”.

If you only dive every few years, or only in tropical water, please go to a refresher class. At the very least start on something easy, like La Jolla cove, then work your way up to wreck dives. Don’t put your life at risk and make other people responsible for your safety.